Jan 192014
Mountain Lion Active in this area...

Mountain Lion Active in this area. Sign in Coal Creek Canyon by Colorado Parks & Wildlife

Here in Coal Creek Canyon Colorado we’ve been having mountain lion problems.

According to Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW, formally Colorado Division of Wildlife) the deer populations are down in the area. Unfortunately that translates to these lions turning to other pray. So far the community has lost 2, 3 or maybe as many as 4 dogs to these lions.

One attack was early, 05:30 hours, where three dogs and two humans were out walking (a morning constitutional.) The lion took the older trailing dog.

Another attack was late, at 21:30 (9:30PM) at night. Another large dog was out, with it’s human around. The lion was difficult to scare off.

Here is what Colorado Parks & Wildlife say about living in Mountain Lion Country with the pets portions being:

Keep your pet under control. Roaming pets are easy prey and can attract lions. Bring pets in at night. If you leave your pet outside, keep it in a kennel with a secure top. Don’t feed pets outside; this can attract raccoons and other animals that are eaten by lions. Store all garbage securely.

Mountain Lion typically hunt at dawn, dusk and at night. The main lesson takeaway is to keep your pets safe at these times. Don’t let them roam, don’t let them out at these times unsupervised, and keep them close. If you are interested in some reading around this topic, this book is actually based in this area.

Now any Mountain Lion can be dangerous by itself, and they are typically solitary animals. That said, a mother Mountain Lion and her cubs travel and hunt together. What then when a mother has twins? Here are three lions photographed in Coal Creek Canyon recently:

Mom (the leader of the line.)

Mother and Two

Mother (look into the dark) and Two “Cubs”

Aug 172013

This summer in Colorado has been spectacularly rainy. That doesn’t comes without it’s downsides, but one upside are the fungi.

A week ago I took an early morning hike around the Snowshow Hare Trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park (from Rifleman Philips to Dude’s fishing hole and back.) When I got to the moist area below the fishing hole … I started coming upon these guys.

All photos are taken by a phone, and were taken from the trail:

Note: Do NOT eat wild fungi. Some can be harmful and worse; irreparable liver damage & death. Enjoy the looking, but don’t touch.

Jan 232012

I stopped by and took a few photographs. The location is 39° 44′ 24.72″ N 105° 13′ 9.60″ W. (aka 39.7402, -105.219333)

This is the technology-enabled wildlife crossing; notice the overhead lights that increase the visibility in this area. Notice the big yellow warning signs, and the flashing lights (currently off) above and below them.

Technology-enabled Wildlife Crossing - lights, sensors, fencing 

Elk’s Perspective

This is the only break in the high elk fence along this section of the road. Elk/deer soon learned to cross here.


The sensors detects a large body entering the crossing; at which point the system engages the flashing warning lights.


My daughter felt this posting was not complete without sharing a photograph of Elk. Here is an awesome one by Ranger Shaina (Shaina Niehans.)

Elk on a Beach by Shaina Niehans

Elk on a Beach

Update: This wildlife crossing has been recorded.

Jan 102012

Elk moving down from the hills around Golden Colorado have had suffered a roadkill problem for a while. These negative human-wildlife interactions cause significant vehicle damage (even injury/death) for the human, and even more significant injury (almost hopefully quick death) for the wildlife.

Road Sign alerting drivers to wildlife

Signs didn’t work (enough)

For years there have been “massive signs” saying watch for wildlife, but still the number of Elk carcasses (and presumably damaged cars) piled up. It was a very sad situation. Then, some smart folks at C-DOT brought technology to play…

The Elk Crossing (Solution)

Along both sides of the road a high Elk fence was built, and it had the (relatively new) “exit ramps”. These exit ramps slope on the inside (road side) but drop straight down on the outside. Elk/wildlife outside would not “climb a wall” to get in, but wildlife on the inside would be able to get out. Very nice. That said, the amazing part is the “elk crossing”

At a high/visible (and newly well lit) place a crossing was designed and designated with gaps in the fence. Motion sensors at each gap detect if a large animal (e.g. an Elk or Deer) were at the gap, and the crossing lights (flashing “slow down” signs) would engage for a few minutes. How excellent! Day or night these lights would alert drivers to an immediate and present danger. Not just some “Wildlife might be here some time” but “caution: wildlife are here/right now!

I’ve been fascinated by this experiment since I first noticed it, and I cannot believe I’ve not blogged about it before. For starters, every time I want to discuss it, I need something to link folks to so they can “see” (or read about) the crossing, with it’s neat design. I don’t have them now, but I’ll find photos (and/or stop take some) to illustrate the design and post them here.

Since this wildlife crossing as been active I’ve noticed a dramatically reduced number of carcasses. In fact, only one (and sadly on the crossing implying the technology or driver didn’t react fast enough) … but one is a massive reduction in damage. I suspect this system pays for itself in terms of reduced pain/suffering/damage for the people/property, and not to mention how it helps the Elk/Deer.

I do hope to see more of these in years to come.

Update: I found this paper on “advances in wildlife crossing” that has some good diagrams/explanations.

Apr 012011

Back in February, when things were cold and snowy, this season’s raptor watch began. Boulder County Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) organize closures and monitoring for a number for nesting species, and when I volunteered I was lucky enough to get Peregrines. I hardly knew that Peregrines were in Colorado, and now I get to watch them. Closely.

Peregrine Falcons by Andrew Baksh

Peregrine Falcons by Andrew Baksh @BirdingDude

Last year I watched a pair preen, feast on prey, mate, and ultimately fledge two chicks. Last week I heard a stoop (loud above my head.) This week I watched an unsuccessful stoop. I feel so privileged to be able to write those words. Peregrines are amazing creatures, and I am lucky to be able to get to know this species. The ‘scream’ of a Peregrine is now in my blood for life. :)

This week’s hike up to the birds was quiet. A belted kingfisher greeted me at the trail head. A few spotted towhee are back to claim the airwaves with their song. A small group of Scrub Jay were a nice bonus for the hike, as were the rafter of Turkey at the top.

Last week the millipedes were out in force on the trails, and this week they were joined by grasshoppers, wasps, butterflies and caterpillars. Luckily for them, the bluebirds have been, flocked, staged and moved on up into the mountains, but with these staples of the food chain here, the other birds will soon be back. Not here, not quite yet, but the Meadowlark are back in town. Bugs beware.

Here is to a nice long season, welcoming in both spring and summer, and to lots of Peregrines.

This summer (after the Peregrine chicks have fledged) I’ve signed up for the Bat Monitor program, and I’m excited at that opportunity. Volunteering is a great way to regularly get outdoors. Give it a try where you are.

Note: OSMP have granted permissions for me to write about my Falcon Watch experiences. I do NOT post locations nor timing details in an effort to preserve critter privacy.

Apr 062009

Recently, I’ve taken to posting #ABDIP each morning. It started because I observed @coastalartist doing similarly, and felt it was a glorious way to start the day; to focus on the wonderful & value the gift of life. Here in Colorado that isn’t hard, things are often so amazing.

This morning (a Monday morning in many ways) I wasn’t ready to settle down to work so I decided to walk the dog, and get the days juices flowing. Bright white snow everywhere (a foot or more, but fluffy/melting not cold/freezing) and bright blue in the sky. Typical Colorado winter.

Just slightly up the hill the distinctive tracks of turkey are everywhere. Their long scaly legs allow them to wander in the woods, but in deep snow they enjoy a break of a snow-plowed road, like we all do. A fox had a similar idea, or maybe was sniffing after a turkey dinner.

The snow is thick, still hanging in the evergreen trees. Wind blows the occasional ‘glistening showers’ down to the ground; briefly they shimmer in the sunlight. The morning sun melts the snow, which drips to form into hanging icicles. The fields are covered with pristine smooth blankets of white (uninterrupted, except for the occasional critter track.) The damp bark of the ponderosas gives reds, the needles deep greens, the cones browns; all stand out against the snow enveloping them. All this works to deliver a “winter wonderland” to match any holiday scene.

Truly #ABDIP. Twenty minutes well spent.